A very short automotive timeline

Truly did not realize how often Jaloppos change cars! I’m only on my third actual car, and it would probably only be my second if a drunk driver hadn’t come along. In order to make this a more than 5s scroll, I’m including cars I drove regularly but weren’t actually mine.

2005 Chevrolet Optra 1.8


My mom’s car: a top trim for the Optra, with a 5 speed manual. Not the actual one pictured but identical. It was a really decent car, in my opinion. Far from enthusiast material, however. The shifting action in particular left much to be desired, and there was considerable body roll along with seats that did not hold you well at all. Undefeatable traction control but it didn’t matter. The 1.8 paired with pretty short gears could somewhat get out of its own way, though.

My mom’s had been very nearly been totaled by my brother before I even started driving and it was never really the same, but overall I have fond memories of this car. Lots of crazy experiences, mostly in the passenger seat.

2005 Renault Twingo


This was my brother’s car, and it is actually the one pictured. The pic is very recent, actually. Purchased brand new and shiny (with wheel covers), it’s still in the extended family and probably still to his name. 1.2 liter 16 valve engine paired to a ridiculously short 5 speed manual (rev limiter in first at just over 20 mph), feather weight, unassisted steering, and no assists whatsoever. Despite its utilitarian purpose, this car was kind of a hoot! I always loved Renault shifters and this one was a joy. The clutch was awful and very tiring, however. I haven’t driven it in like 5 years at least.

2009 Mini Cooper


Eventually my mom added this super fun Mini Cooper to our garage. The actual one pictured, a tastefully-equipped Mellow Yellow with white contrasting top ‘09 Cooper. As you’ve seen, it was very much a row-your-own family, so the 6-speed manual it was. White turn signals and the panoramic sunroof as well. This was the first actually good car I drove, and it was so good! To this day I want an R56 Mini. Ridiculously fun and I still adore the looks. Sadly, my brother did fully total this one while I was off in college. Should’ve optioned stability control :(

2000 (?) BMW 323i


Actual one pictured. This was kind of my car during the first half of my senior year of college. It was a long-term rental through RelayRides, the site that later went on to become Turo. This thing was so awesome, it started my love affair with the E46. The 5 speed auto was a little clunky switching between reverse and drive and around town, but the whole thing still came alive when you got on it. The M52TUB25 is such a sweet sounding engine, and you can actually wring it out some without going to jail.

2000 BMW 323i


After experiencing that rental one, an E46 was at the front of the line when I decided to buy my first actual car. Lucky for me this 103K mile peach popped up right by me. Manual with the sport package, including xenon headlights. I got if for $5,700, too! Was only beginning to realize how lucky I got when a drunk driver hit it and totaled it as it sat parked in San Francisco. I was young, stupid, and moneyless as this was between when I graduated and when I started my first job. The person was never caught but I hope they died a fiery death by now. I sold it for like $700 to a scrap yard but I believe it’s been fixed up and is running around the Bay Area to this day, no doubt a shadow of its former self.

2005.5 Audi A4 Avant


I did some ZipCar’ing around and even re-rented the blue E46 until I found a job and quickly needed a new car. I went to see an E46 at a dealer and it ended up being too beat for me. However, they had also just gotten this 53K mile manual wagon in and I ended up paying way too much for it. It turned out to be a great decision, nonetheless! She’s still going strong at a little over 100K now.

2009 BMW 335i


My latest automotive purchase. It’s already been over a year and 5,000 miles with this one. It’s a LeMans Blue over Saddle Brown manual 335i with a stock N54. Don’t know if I’ll ever be able to buy a car with fewer than six cylinders after this. You can very much tell it’s a successor to my old 323i, but it’s a way more serious machine.


My next purchase will likely be one vehicle that combines both the A4 and the 335's capabilities. An Audi SQ5 or BMW X3 M40i come to mind. However, the new Mazda 3 has me tickled. Maybe a CX-5 Signature? Who knows. I seem to be quite good at keeping cars so this could be many years away.


Thanks for reading!

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